Talk to anyone over 40 (especially women) and they will most likely tell you how their sleep habits have changed once they hit the big 4 – oh. And, it’s not just in your head. Starting in our forties, the brain becomes less efficient in everything, including the way in which it completes our sleep-related duties.
As we age, the brain produces less melatonin than when we are young. Melatonin is hormone that helps regulate wake and sleep cycles in our bodies. When we produce less melatonin, our sleep patterns can be disrupted. This means we can become tired earlier in the day and awake later into the night.
So, as we age, are we just destined to never have another good night of sleep? Well, there are a few things that can help.
If you fall asleep while watching television or surf the ‘net while laying in bed, you might want to change your habits. A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that the light from television or device screens can disrupt your sleep pattern.
“Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep,” said Doctor Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
If you’re used to sleeping in a loud environment, you might want to take measures to make it quieter around you. One way to do this is to use something like SleepPhones, which is a comfortable headband with headphones. You can then download comforting sounds or music to help you sleep.
If night sweats are disrupting your sleep and you find yourself waking up several times at night to flip over your pillow to the cool side, then you might want to try a cooling pillow.
Talk to your healthcare professional and if they give you the green light, you may want to try some over-the-counter melatonin to help regulate your sleep.
If all else is failing, journal your sleep issues and then talk to a physician who specializes in insomnia. Check out books like The Insomnia Workbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting the Sleep You Need to help get you started on tracking your sleep and the issues you are having.
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